E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Social Media Today – The Art and Science of Forming Successful Online Communities

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A couple of days ago I actually attended a Social Media Today event (Sponsored by Bulldog Solutions), facilitated by Robin Carey, on the subject of "The Art and Science of Forming Successful Online Communities" and I thought I would go ahead today and share with you a couple of thoughts that crossed my mind as I got to attend the webcast itself remotely. But, before I do that, let me just share with you as well that you can also watch the webcast yourself by going into the following URL and then click on the Join Event button. It lasts for a bit under one hour and can honestly say that it would be really worth while, specially if you are just getting into the fascinating world of virtual community building.

As you would be able to see from the link I shared above, the featured speakers were actually incredibly good. Very informative, knowledgeable, willing to share their experiences on community building and lots and lots of expertise on the subject. So, indeed, it couldn’t go wrong! And it didn’t. This is the kind of webcast that I would certainly recommend to anyone out there getting involved within the world of virtual community building as it would help you get plenty of great ideas on how you can get things going. If you actually get to watch the webcast you would be able as well to see a slide deck that was very helpful not only in introducing the speakers, but also in helping everyone get some of the key basics behind community building. As I said, a must watch for anyone out there interested in the subject of building online communities and get things off to a good start!

While I was attending the event, I decided to share as well some of the thoughts I found interesting in my twitterings, not only as a way to share some more snippets about the contents of the event, but also as a way for me to help me out later on when drafting this particular weblog post. Yes, indeed, that is one of the things that Twitter is very good at: share your quick thoughts on events that are happening so that you can revisit them at a later time as draft notes for your blog posts or whatever else. Pretty neat.

So from here onwards I am just going to share some of those thoughts I shared a couple of days ago. I must say something beforehand though. The webcast was a superb event from an educational and resourceful point of view, specially for people coming new to the world of online community building. However, for the folks who have been doing community building for a while it may not be just as useful. For instance, I was hoping that the aspects of knowledge sharing, collaboration and learning within online communities would be mentioned, as well as how communities are the main catalysts to help drive not only the adoption of social software within the corporate world, but also main key drivers of pure innovation. No barriers, no limitations, just connecting with others to share stuff on a common topic (Their passion!) and keep innovating.

Unfortunately, none of them were mentioned. Perhaps the perfect opportunity for an upcoming follow up session where these topics would be discussed: on how communities can help nurture a new wave of interactions where the power of the collective goes wild into helping us all work smarter and not necessarily harder. We shall see. For the time being here you have got my live thoughts from the event itself:

"- Interesting to see how the focus of the webcast hasn’t touched base on the knowledge sharing & learning aspects of online communities.
– Too much focus on tools & content, as usual. Disappointing, I must say
– Oh boy, watching slides that bring me back to the 90s!
– "People are more willing to share if they know & trust who they are sharing knowledge with" > Now you are talking!
– Business models for online communities? That’s a new one to me!
– Recruiting people for online communities? Oh my!
– Online facilitators are key to communities’ success. Amen to that! Where is Nancy White, when you need her? πŸ˜‰ heh
– "The community makes the community, technology is just an enabler" > That’s just the best quote from the entire event & what I got out of
– A couple of interesting links from the webcast as well: http://blog.pandemicflu.gov/
(Which was then mentioned as well by Stephen Collins over at Government Blogging on how the government can engage in the world of the blogosphere by launching meaningful and provocative conversations on stuff that matters to us all! And I totally agree with that!)
http://library20.ning.com/, to prove the point social networking is not just for the younger generations. Older generations get it, too!!

Thus, as you would be able to see, quite a highly recommendable event to listen to whenever yo get a chance, and I am now really looking forward to the follow up, whenever that takes place…

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  1. Hi Luis!

    I think people don’t talk about facilitation when the tech landscape is changing. When it pauses for a moment, then everyone hits themselves on the forehead and says “FACILITATION! It is Obvious!” But it seems we go in a cycle with online communities, bouncing between our fascination with technology, then our (somewhat less) fascination with process! πŸ™‚ I hope to find time to listen to the podcast you pointed to! Waving from Sardegna (beautiful place)

  2. Hello folks! Thanks much for dropping by and for the feedback comments! Appreciated! Special welcome to David for his first time over here in elsua! And, of course, for stumbling upon my blog! πŸ™‚

    Nancy, you are just so right on those comments. But doesn’t it make you feel like having a strong sense of deja vΓΊ in the sense that we are going nowadays through the exact same face of when the Internet first became available to wider audiences and everyone was crazy with Forums, newsgroups, e-mail, chat, I.R.C. and the list goes on and on and on. Back then, indeed, people were thinking along the same lines: tools, tools, tools, and then let’s worry about facilitation, which is why in most cases it all failed. I mean, having that strong sense of community, of belonging to the group.

    You would expect though that we would have learned the lesson by now and realise that while all of these social tools are just that, tools that enable people to get together, the focus should be on the facilitation part because that is what will make an online community successful. The fact that you focus on the people, and helping facilitate those connections so that they can share with the rest of the community membership. It looks like we are all going back to the late 90s!! Hopefully, people would realise about it before it is too late.

    I think you would find the webcast interesting to listen to, although I know you have got much better things to do at the moment. Love the pictures you have been sharing in your Flickr account from such a beautiful place as Sardegna. Wonderful! It makes me want to go there and join you! Have a good one and keep it up!

    Dennis, thanks for the heads up and for letting me know about this. I am glad to read you have enjoyed the article and have forwarded it to one of your clients. If you would need more info you know where to find me πŸ˜‰

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